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location Kenya, Tanzania date December 2009 – June 2012 project team Daniel Karanja Martin Kimani Richard Musebe

improving seed production for African indigenous vegetable farmers

African indigenous vegetables (AIVs), rich in Iron, Zinc and Vitamin A, are vital crops that are improving food security and generating income for rural and urban communities in Africa.

so what’s the problem? An increasing demand for AIVs is being limited however, by a lack of supply in good quality seed. The majority of farmers use seeds obtained either saved from their own previous crops or from open air markets, which have problems of purity and poor germination. Relying on seeds from such sources also limits farmers’ access to seeds of improved varieties that meet preferred attributes by consumers.

what is this project doing? Working with researchers, regulators, public and private sector extension workers, seed companies, both nongovernmental and community-based, the project is helping to train and establish seed farmers as certified producers in Kenya and Tanzania. By supplying farmers with start-up materials and providing training programs covering production of quality seeds, crop management techniques and the principles of marketing products, the project looks to improve the quality of seed for indigenous vegetables to smallholder farmers. Based on the existing seed policy and regulations regarding production and marketing in Kenya and Tanzania, three farmer-led seed enterprise models are being validated. The models include contract, research-mediated and the Quality Declared Seed model which seeks to bridge the gap between the formal and informal seed markets.


results so far We have so far produced a curriculum for a course for future trainers to teach them the principles of quality seed production and post-harvest handling. Initially, 19 (incl. 7 women) farmer trainers in Kenya and 30 (incl. 11 women) in Tanzania received one week of practical training. These graduates then conducted seasonlong training sessions for over 500 (~40% women), local smallholder seed farmers in Kenya and Tanzania. Subsequently, the same course was used to train 71 (17 female) government and private sector extension workers in western Kenya. Over the course of the project, seed production and mean germination rates have improved with seed purity rates exceeding 90% compared to below 50% prior to the project. The increased production and quality has consequently improved the profits of the smallholder seed producers. In Kenya for example, the trained farmers earned on average $4,500 per year from indigenous vegetables with one farmer earning as much as $17,000 per annum through the contract models. In addition, the productivity (seed yield/acre) increased by 10.6%, 40.1% and 59.4% for Nightshade, Jute Mallow and Crotalaria, respectively, during the second cropping season 2010/11. With this increased income smallholder farmers in Kenya and Tanzania have used the money to improve their livelihoods by constructing permanent houses and paying for education for their children. Through the research-mediated model, the project has developed descriptors and produced quality starter seed for Spider plant and Amaranthus to ensure sustainable supply of seed to growers who have no formal contracts with seed companies. This work also gave impetus for fast tracking release of seven improved varieties of African indigenous vegetables in Tanzania. partners Horticultural Research and Training Institute Tengeru (HORTI-Tengeru) INADES-Formation Tanzania Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)-Kisii Kenya Seed Company Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) Technology Adoption through Research Organisation (TATRO) The World Vegetable Centre-Regional Centre for Africa (AVRDC-RCA) sponsors Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA)-Multi-donor Trust Fund (MDTF)

contact CABI, ICRAF Complex, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, PO Box 633-00621, Nairobi, Kenya T: +254 20 72 24450 F: +254 20 71 22150 E:


Daniel Karanja, Project Manager

African Indigenous Vegetables  

Project flyer on African indigenous vegetables, detailing cabi's work on this.

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